“Zachary Taylor Walrond was born in Hart County, Kentucky, April 3rd, 1847. His birthplace is about six miles from Glen Lily, the birthplace and home, when not in public life, of [former Vice-President] General Simon Bolivar Buckner of Confederate fame and about twenty miles south of the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Conrad Walrond, the father of Z. T. Walrond, was a prosperous farmer of a genial happy disposition. It was always a joy to the young people to visit the home of ‘Uncle Conrad.’ It meant a season of sunshine and good fellowship. The Walrond family are thought to be of English descent. Emily Mitchell, the mother of Z. T. Walrond, was of a Scotch-Irish family, her mother, Rachel Crawford, was of the old Virginia family, bearing the name, which has produced so many men distinguished in Church and State, Art and Literature.
Z. T. Walrond was known in early boyhood as ‘Taylor’ Walrond, in compliment to his namesake, the twelfth president of the United States. As he grew older he seemed to dislike the name and he was called by his abbreviated first name, ‘Zac,’ with the unanimous consent of those most directly interested, who soon learned to use the new name by which he was ever afterwards familiarly known among his relatives and friends. His early education was in the common schools of his native county. Later during the Civil War he entered the Male and Female High School at Columbia, Kentucky; at that time this town was one of the centers of learning for the Green River Country in Kentucky. After a time at this school he returned to his father’s farm and engaged at this occupation until the fall of 1867 when he again entered the Academy at Columbia. While in school he united with the Presbyterian church and being of exceptional promise as a student and with rare social qualities he was solicited to become a candidate for the Presbyterian ministry, to which he consented and was taken under care of the Presbytery with this calling in view. His zeal in study overtaxed his powers and he suffered a physical breakdown and left the school in the spring of 1868. After this he engaged for some time in active outdoor life to regain his health, teaching school in the winter until the spring of 1870, when he decided to seek his fortune in the West, coming to Kansas in the spring of 1870. He has left on record April 3, 1870, as the exact date of his settlement in Kansas, this being his twenty-third birthday. At that time the Arapaho and Buffalo roamed at will over the hills, valleys and plains of Western Kansas. In company with two brothers of the name of Crosby he selected a preemption on the North Solomon River in Osborne County.
Z. T. Walrond was one of the first, if not the first to obtain full legal title to land in this county [Osborne] from the United States. His patent is dated January 20, 1872, and bears the name of [Ulysses] S. Grant, then president. Albert Wells and J. J. Wiltrout, now a banker at Logan, Kansas, were among his comrades and neighbors at that time. They were all then young men, fond of adventure, and with high hopes for the future. They lived in a stockade in what became extreme northwestern Bethany Township as a defense against Indian raids, enduring the privation of frontier life for the purpose of a home and independence in a material way. He gave the name of Bethany to the township and post office [later known as Portis], being appointed the second postmaster and first justice of the peace in that vicinity. After paying out on his preemption he homesteaded adjoining land and remained on his homestead until the fall of 1873.
Z. T. Walrond was elected register of deeds, November 4, 1873, and took the office in January 1874, making his home in the city of Osborne after that time. Later in the year 1874 he had built the residence in Osborne which still stands at the corner of First and East Streets. In December 1874 he was united in marriage to Mary Duncan Smith of Horse Cave, Hart County, Kentucky, immediately bringing his bride to Osborne to occupy the new home. During all those early years Z. T. Walrond took an active part in laying the foundations of organized society. He was in the forefront of every movement for the public kind, generous and hospitable. He had a warm place in the hearts of the people. He himself has said he never had better friends anywhere than the early settlers in Osborne County. He loved them and was loved by them in return. He held the office of register of deeds two terms, retiring in January, 1878. During these early years he studied law and was admitted to the bar. After retiring from the office of register of deeds, he formed a partnership with the late [Robert] G. Hays (who died a few years ago at Oklahoma City) for the practice of law; later this partnership was dissolved. On January, 1879, he entered into partnership with J. K. Mitchell, and this partnership continued four about four years under the firm name of Walrond & Mitchell; later Cyrus Heren came into the firm and the business was conducted under the firm name of Walrond, Mitchell & Heren. This partnership was dissolved January 1, 1890.
Z. T. Walrond had a retentive memory and kept a record of current events, from which between 1880 and 1882 he compiled a history of Osborne County and Northwest Kansas known as the Annals of Osborne County, a history of the decade of the 1870s that is a mine of information for all later historians. He was elected county attorney of Osborne County in fall of 1880 and held this position for two terms, from January 1881 until January 1885. He was elected county representative to the Kansas Legislature November 2, 1886, re-elected November 6, 1888, and was a member of the Legislature when appointed United States District Attorney for the Indian Territory by President Harrison in the spring of 1889. During his second term in the legislature he was a candidate for Speaker of the House, but was defeated because he would not pledge himself in advance in the matter of appointments under control of the Speaker, deeming it of more importance to be free to use his best judgment in such matters and preferring defeat to being fettered. His action in this probably aided in calling attention to the character of the man and in securing his selection as United States Attorney on the recommendation of the United States Senator, Preston B. Plumb, who was particularly anxious for a man with unquestioned integrity and firmness to be chosen as United States Attorney for the Indian country. Mr. Walrond held the position of U. S. Attorney for four years, until the spring of 1893, when he was relieved by the incoming Cleveland administration, being succeeded by a Democrat.
After his retirement from public office he continued to reside at Muskogee, Oklahoma, engaging in the practice of law, being called into the public position again as Referee in Bankruptcy and afterwards chosen police judge of Muskogee. He discharged his duties in every public trust with honor to himself and to the satisfaction of his fellow citizens. He was frequently attorney for the Indians and enjoyed their unbounded confidence.
He leaves to mourn his loss his wife and one daughter, Lucile, three children–Virgil, Warren, and Annie–having died in infancy and whose remains rest in the Osborne Cemetery. He has a sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Hutcherson, residing at Portis, Kansas, a brother Madison in Nebraska, another sister, Mrs. Martha Hatcher and one unmarried sister, Alice, still living on the old Walrond homestead in Kentucky. An older brother, Thomas, was a Federal soldier in the Civil War and died before the war closed from disease contracted in the service The circle of his friends is only limited by the extent of his acquaintances which is not confined to state lines. He had been in failing health for several months and spent some time at Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, during the last summer in the hope of regaining his health but gradually became weaker. He suddenly became worse on Monday, November 2nd, and was taken to the hospital in Muskogee, where he had a specially trained nurse and the best of medical skill, but nothing could prolong his life and he peacefully and without a sigh breathed his last on one o’clock on Friday morning, November 6, 1914. While he lay in the hospital his friends made his room a bower of roses. Flowers beautiful beyond description covered his grave.
As before stated he connected himself with the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, there being no church of that faith when he came to Osborne, he united with the Congregational Church and remained with that body until his removal to Muskogee, where he reunited with the Presbyterian Church, was chosen an Elder and at one time represented his Presbytery in the General Assembly as a Commissioner. He became a member of the Masonic fraternity in Kentucky and remained a member all his life. His pastor, Reverend J. K. Thompson, conducted the funeral service and his body was escorted to the grave in the Greenhill Cemetery by the entire local membership of the Masonic Lodge. The Bar Association of Muskogee was present in a body. Hundreds were unable to enter the outer portals of the church. At the conclusion of the church service the body was placed in care of the Knights Templar and their brother Masons. The active pallbearers were uniformed Knights Templar, while the honorary pallbearers were deacons of the church of which Judge Walrond had been a member for the last twenty-five years of his life. He was the oldest lawyer in the state of Oklahoma in rank of admission to the bar in that state. Few men have gained and held so high a place in the esteem of all classes of people through a long period of years. He was always kind, gentle and considerate of the feelings of others, rarely wounded anyone or made an enemy; at the same time he was always firm for the right as he saw the right.
One of nature’s noblemen such as we do not look upon every day but whose lives leave the world richer for all time by reason of their sojourn here. Requiescat in peace.”
— John Knox Mitchell, cousin, in the Osborne (KS) County Farmer, November 19, 1914.